Pic River Chief Roy Michano is calling for revenue sharing for all future mineral resource developments.
“Employment is a given, training is a given,” Michano said during the second day of the 2010 Northwestern Ontario Mines & Minerals Symposium, held April 7-8 at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay. “I feel it is important now that revenue sharing has got to be supreme in any of these agreements from now on that are done.”
Michano said revenue sharing would pave the way for self-sufficiency for community members and youth in the future.
“It will provide revenue, as long as the mine is there,” Michano said. “The mining business automatically gives a tax concession to the municipality.”
Michano said the Hemlo mines have provided about $1 million per year in tax concessions to the neighbouring municipality of Marathon.
“We’re next door to it, where is our share,” Michano said. “It means self-sufficiency to a community that is deserving of a piece of that pie.”
Michano said Supreme Court decisions have indicated there needs be consultation and accommodation by the resource industries.
“Where is the accommodation in the mining industry, particularly when the mining act is being revised,” Michano said.
“Where is the revenue sharing agreements that should give us who are surrounded right in the heart of a golden giant – where is our share.”
Michano said First Nations communities also have to benefit from spin-off opportunities related to the resource industries.
“We who are capable of taking charge ought to be signing agreements and AIPs that will give us control,” Michano said.
“So often it goes to the municipalities; now it’s time its got to come to First Nations who have the capacity to manage that.”
Lac Seul First Nation signed an agreement April 8 with Moncrief Construction Ltd. to start up Obish Construction Ltd. during the 2010 Northwestern Ontario Mines & Minerals Symposium.
“It’s a 51-49 per cent partnership between Lac Seul First Nation and Moncrief Construction,” said Sam Manitowabi, Lac Seul’s general manager of economic development.
“We will help them obtain work within our traditional territory for different types of construction projects utilizing opportunities presented to us through these exploration agreements. Moncrief Construction does have a lot of experience working on mine sites, exploration sites as well. So there is a lot of opportunities for us. From that, it will generate a revenue stream for the First Nation.”
Manitobi said the new partnership will also generate employment and training opportunities for First Nations people.
“The number of people that will be employed and trained will be determined on how well the business is doing,” Manitowabi said. “The more successful we are in acquiring jobs, the more people there will be working.”
Manitowabi said Lac Seul is also working on developing another joint venture in a mineral exploration services company.
“This is another opportunity for us to benefit from all the exploration opportunities that are happening,” Manitowabi said.
“Moncrief builds roads, so a lot of these exploration sites might require roads going into their projects sites – Moncrief can do that employing our workers.”
Peter Moses, First Nation minerals information officer with the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines & Forestry and a Pic River band member, spoke about First Nations involvement in the mineral resource industry on the second day of the 2010 Northwestern Ontario Mines & Minerals Symposium, noting the number of First Nations-mining company agreements have escalated from 57 across Canada and seven in Ontario in 2004 to over 150 across Canada and 60 in Ontario in 2008.
“That is very indicative of how First Nations people have a willingness to work with the mining industry,” Moses said, adding that First Nations are favourably located for providing more of the future mining industry workforce as Ontario’s current workforce retires. “The amount of prospecting courses we have delivered to First Nation communities are beginning to take some effect. I think there is a great opportunity here for all parties.”
Brian Davey, Matawa First Nations’ economic development advisor, acknowledged the importance of Moses’ presentations at various mines and mineral symposiums over the past few years.
“He has raised the interest and profile of mining over the years,” Davey said. “We need to continue to do these types of talks at these various events to keep the industry informed on First Nation participation because it is important we keep them informed on what we are doing.”
Davey said it is also important to keep in contact with those people and companies who want to operate in Matawa’s traditional territories.
“It is always good to have our representation from Matawa First Nations coming to explore the different information booths that are available and hearing the various presentations to let people know we are not going anywhere,” Davey said. “We are here to interact and do what is best for our communities.”
Garry Clark, executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association, said it was important to present information about First Nations involvement in the mining industry because so much of the work currently taking place in the mineral exploration industry are taking place in First Nations’ traditional lands.
“There are quite a few First Nations people who attend this event,” Clark said. “Peter’s program has been running for a number of years and getting into a lot of communities. I think the participation grows every year in the First Nations.”
Clark said most prospectors-explorers find the minerals and the big companies come along and develop the resources.
“In the Ring of Fire it is a little difficult because there are not a lot of outcrops,” Clark said. “Prospectors usually like to work on outcrops, but they (mining companies) hire a lot of people who do the work that is going on in exploration.”
This includes diamond drilling, cutting lines and doing geophysics.
Clark said some prospectors hire themselves out as contractors for the different mining companies and move from project to project.
“Northwestern Ontario is great for that because there are so many projects going on right now and there is lots of work,” Clark said. “Prospectors can come in different shades too, they can be part-time prospectors, full-time prospectors. We have retired school teachers who are prospectors. And then there are some of the land speculators who stake land on spec and hopefully deal it because it is near something looking good.”
Well, our short summer up here in Northern Ontario is beginning to fade. Summer is so precious to all of us in the north and this year we started very late...